Evil Weapon
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""I was far more evil then you ever were."
- Stormbringer

Basic Information

A subtype of the Artifact of Doom, the evil weapon is a self-aware magical weapon, with an evil personality. Outside fantasy, this trope can be exercised by systems with a suitably misanthropic AI installed - in this case forcing a human into the command loop makes the difference between an "evil" weapon and a killer robot. The self-awareness level can vary - a weapon that is sub sapient but malevolent and gives its wielder a subliminal "push" towards evil fits the trope just as well as a fully intelligent one that talks aloud.

Some magical weapons in particular may be able to provide additional assistance to wielders that suit their purpose - and/or hinderance to those that they dislike. The type of weapon it is may be indicative of its personality and powers. See Weapon of Choice (and Good Weapon Evil Weapon) for ideas.

Moralists may, however, wish to argue the line between a weapon which is evil and one which is merely highly motivated to do harm - the latter, of course, being a extension of the weapon's inherent purpose and thus, by some lights at least, virtuous. Possibly the line might lie in the ability to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate targets.

See Also

Sources

Bibliography

Game and Story Use

  • If your goal is to make the PCs paranoid and untrusting of the very world they live in, this can be a cursed item hidden amidst the treasure horde.
    • It's a little less artificial and contrived if you at least put it in the hands of a villain first.
      • Even better if that villain obviously suffers from the side effects or mind control of the weapon. Then it won't feel like you railroaded them into a trap, as they have some advance warning the weapon might be evil or cursed.
      • Could be a way to send the PCs up against a much bigger challenge than they could normally take. The weapon drains life force from it's wielder, so The Dragon that is carrying it has only a fraction of the hit points or willpower they normally would. They'll be excited to have beaten that high level villain, but if very Mechanics Savvy, they'll realize they never should have survived that fight. If they chose to use the darned thing anyway, there's no one to blame but themselves.
  • Making a weapon evil can be used as a way to control Power Creep in a game. Yeah, they killed the villain and took his sword of death, but they don't dare use it.
    • If you do this too often, though, the players might feel cheated.
  • A soul-killing blade that turns everyone that it kills into zombies might be an interesting campaign feature.
  • For additional ideas, see Artifact of Doom.
  • Modern hoplophobia might spawn mythago versions of this trope, especially firearms with bottomless magazines and anomalous full-auto capability that somehow incite their wielders to violence … and will discharge themselves at the drop of a hat, and turn up mysteriously at a peppercorn price in places where firearms are not normally sold. Even otherwise seemingly innocent handguns that, no matter how carefully they are made safe before storage, always seem to be found cocked, with a round in the chamber and the safety on.
    • A slightly less silly version of this, but still quite eerie, several of the L1A1 rifles used in the "Bloody Sunday" killings in Ulster were subsequently passed onto Sierra Leone as military aid where, by unknown but easily guessed at routes, they ended up in the hands of the "West Side Boys" and were used in a variety of massacres and other atrocities before falling once again into the hands of British paratroopers who, on inspecting the captured rifles, saw that they had previously been Para weapons. Perhaps the weapons got a taste for innocent blood1
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